Francis Jenkinson: a pop-up exhibition

Yesterday the University Library hosted a conference to mark one hundred years since the death (on 21 September 1923) of Francis Jenkinson, University Librarian for well over thirty years (1889-1923). Nearly fifty delegates spent a happy day listening to eight short papers covering personal and professional aspects of Jenkinson’s life. The former included his friendship with Ida Darwin, interests in natural history, correspondence with Edward Gordon Duff and George Dunn, and the latter covered some of the more significant events of his time as Librarian, including the acquisition of the Cairo Genizah, his work to preserve medieval manuscript fragments, and the disbinding and early photography of the Library’s greatest treasure, Codex Bezae. One theme running through many of the papers was they way in which Jenkinson saw himself in the shadow of his predecessor but one as University Librarian, Henry Bradshaw, whose bibliographical disciple he had been.

Dr Nick Posegay speaking, amusingly and authoritatively, on Jenkinson and the Genizah

Before lunch, a display was held in the Rare Books Room – devoid of researchers for the day – curated by Liam Sims. What follows aims to share something of the variety of the display and to act as a small lasting reminder of a temporary display. It is by no means comprehensive, focusing on some of the more visual elements on show. But hopefully it will act as a useful port of call for those interested in Jenkinson and his legacy.

Before the arrival of delegates
Jenkinson’s copy of the sale catalogue of Henry Bradshaw’s library (1886), with names and prices. Note the FJ against lot 386. (8880.c.298)
Jenkinson to E. Gordon Duff, June 1889, on his chances of becoming Librarian (Add. 8294/33)
A typical day from Jenkinson’s diary, 22 September 1900: mounting flies, to the Library, looking for flies on the Backs, more flies at home, then mounting his new specimens (Add. 7423)
Recipe for creme brulee, in a cookery book published by Jenkinson’s sister Eleanor. She credits Jenkinson with introducing the dish to Cambridge, via Trinity College, where he was a fellow (Lib.7.90.192: The Ocklye Cookery Book, 1909)
A piece of Dutch prototypography on vellum, a Doctrinale of c. 1465-80, sold as part of the library of George Dunn (a friend of Jenkinson) in 1913 and bought for the Library by John Charrington for the vast sum of £500 (Inc.4.E.1.1[2775])
A wartime speech by M. R. James to the Cambridge Tipperary Club, printed by Bruce Rogers in 1918. James gave this copy to Jenkinson on the day he (James) left Cambridge to become Provost of Eton, and when Jenkinson died in 1923 it passed to his UL colleague A. T. Bartholomew. Collection of Liam Sims.
Minute book of the Swaffham Prior Natural History Society 1835-40, acquired by Jenkinson and bequeathed to the Library (Add. 6460). Adam Sedgwick, John Stevens Henslow and Leonard Jenyns were among its membership.
A piece of World War I ephemera, brought into the Library through Jenkinson’s efforts and known as the War Reserve Collection. From WRB.46.341
Icelandic literature translated by British Museum librarian Robert Proctor as a wedding gift for Francis and Margaret Jenkinson in 1902. A. W. Pollard’s copy, Proctor’s colleague at the Museum. Collection of Liam Sims.
A seventeenth-century schoolbook given by Thomas Colbatch to Orwell School Library. Jenkinson bought the school library in 1911 and presented it to CUL (CCE.6.36)
Marian Sydney Wetton, Jenkinson’s first wife, who died in 1888 just six months after their marriage (Add. 9368.1/10482)

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